Monday, July 13, 2009

save the date to step up your speaking

I'm delighted that I'll be speaking at Washington Women in Public Relations' next professional development brown-bag lunch, Monday, July 27 from 12 noon to 2pm. Our topic: "Step Up Your Speaking: Be an Eloquent Woman." In this session, we'll conduct a lively, hands-on workshop based on your questions and training priorities--yes, the audience will help set the agenda. And I'll be talking about the skills, confidence and opportunities you need to succeed as a public speaker, as well as why women have traditionally had fewer speaking opportunities and say they fear speaking more than men do. As author of The Eloquent Woman, a blog on women and public speaking, I hope you'll use this session to get ready to enter our contest "15 Weeks to Step Up Your Speaking," and win a Flip HD camcorder and 15 weeks of speaker coaching. Want to learn more? Become a fan of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook to join ongoing discussions and tips. Stand by for an update on the location for this session, and registration details. I'm looking forward to learning about your top priorities for improving your speaking skills!

Your priorities: dumb it down, dress it up?

On Facebook, the Eloquent Woman's discussion of your top priorities for your own speaking includes "vocabulary...I either seem to dumb it up or condes[c]end." Knowing how to gauge your language and your explanations during a presentation or speech means knowing your audience--and knowing yourself as a speaker. Here are some points to ponder as you assess your next audience:

  • Even the most technically savvy audience welcomes clear speaking: You can't go wrong with terms that any listener can understand--and there's no need to think of it as "dumbing down" or "condescending." If you catch yourself thinking that way, it's time to reexamine your motivation for speaking to this group. No audience will know everything you know, and that doesn't mean they're dumb. Nor should your words be.
  • If you're not sure how to calibrate your talk, ask. Ask the organizers, if you don't know the group, and listen for cues that will tell you more about the audience. What do they want to hear about? Some organizations ask for audience input before a presentation, so be sure you get access to it before you begin. Failing that, take a poll of the audience at the start, and ask them what their levels of experience are with your topic.
  • Use message techniques to make your words memorable and clear. If you can help me follow your points with useful analogies, an outline that follows the rule of three key points, and other message techniques, I'm more likely to understand you.

I hope you'll enter the 15 Weeks to Step Up Your Speaking contest so we can work together on priorities like this one!

Related posts: All our posts on audience considerations

Messages and the rule of three